Cooking may seem intimidating, but if you listen to some tips and practice, anyone can become a seasoned home cook. So redditor u/BigBadWolf44 asked, "Chefs of Reddit, what’s one rule of cooking amateurs need to know?"
1."Don't rely on a single recipe. Google whatever dish you're trying to make, but don't just randomly pick one of the results. Read a few different versions of the recipe, and choose the one that appears to be the average of all the others."
2."Treat temperature as if it were an ingredient. Follow the recipe instructions. A pan that's too hot or too cold will result in bad food or, at the very least, a dish that isn't cooked properly."
3."When you take something out of the oven — whether it's a pot, pan, skillet, sheet, tray, whatever — drape a towel or oven mitt over the handle or edge of it. That way you or anyone else in the kitchen knows that it’s hot and should not be grabbed bare-handed."
4."Salt, pepper, and acid will brighten up almost any dish. If your food just tastes like it's missing something, add salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Then try it again and reassess."
5."If there's one tip I would give you, it's to make your own salad dressings from scratch. It takes almost no time, and you most likely have the ingredients sitting in your pantry. Homemade dressings taste so much better than the bottled stuff."
6."When you're cooking with lots of fats and oils like butter or vegetable oil, you'll want to add a good amount of acidity. Ingredients like lemon juice, wine, or vinegar can really brighten up heavy, rich foods."
7."You don't need to spend a ton of money on kitchen knives, so long as you keep them nice and sharp. A $30 Victorinox and $5 sharpener will get you a very long way."
8."Taste everything as you cook, not just the finished recipe. Try all the spices, salt, and pepper separately before you add them to your dish. Don't let one bad ingredient ruin your meal."
9."Keep the skins on produce when making stock or broth. Wash it, of course, but the color and flavor of the broth will come from the rinds or skins—even onions! I store leftover veggies in a gallon freezer bag and make stock when it's full. It's so much more flavorful than the canned/boxed stuff."
10."While high heat can and should be used when appropriate (especially if you know how to control your heat on a stove top), turning your burners up to 10 for everything will just lead to smoke and half-cooked food with a burnt exterior. Think: grilled cheese that is charred black on the outside and not melted on the inside."
11."Use a few high-quality ingredients, and they'll speak for themselves. The best recipes rely on a few fresh, really quality ingredients rather than a ton of mediocre ingredients."
12."You don't always have to follow the recipe verbatim, but if you're a new cook, it is helpful to find a couple of solid recipes and follow them to the letter. After you get comfortable, then stray all you want. It may not seem creative, but it really is the best way to learn and get a couple of perfected dishes under your belt."
13."If you're making something like soup, gravy, meatloaf, meatballs, or casserole and the dish has become too liquid, stir in some instant mashed potatoes out of the box. It helps thicken and can be a lifesaver."
14."Spices do not stay good forever. Old spices in your cupboard most likely won't make you sick, but they do lose flavor. Ground spices should be tossed and replaced after about a year."
15."Invest in a good instant-read cooking thermometer, which can be as cheap as $15. A thermometer gives precise results every time you cook, which is especially valuable if you experiment with different cuts of meat and different dishes. If you cook short ribs on the grill once per year, you don't want to be guessing on the cooking time."
16."There is no such thing as cooking wine. Don't cook with a wine that you wouldn't drink on its own. You don't have to spend a ton, but cooking with quality drinking wine (even a $12 bottle) adds much more flavor to a dish."
17."Smell and taste are very interconnected. If you're not sure if various spices go together, open the spice bottles and smell them together. If they smell good, they will probably taste good, too."
18."People often add salt to a dish because they think it tastes flat, but what it really needs is an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. If you've already added salt and it's still tasting meh, try an acidic element."
19."Roasted vegetables are delicious, but the key is roasting them for longer than you think is necessary. I used to hate roasted veggies because they’d either be hard and undercooked or mushy. Then I realized you need to cook them for even longer (past the mushy stage) until the moisture is removed and they begin to brown."
20."Let your meat rest before cutting into it after you remove it from the heat. The meat cooks from the outside in, so letting it rest gives you a juicier, more evenly cooked cut of meat. It only takes a few minutes, and it elevates your cooking so much."
21."Mise en place, always. It's French for 'putting in place.' It means prepare your ingredients (measuring amounts, chopping onions, peeling potatoes, seasoning meat, greasing pans, etc.) and put everything within an arm's reach of where you'll be cooking before you actually begin cooking."
22."Always brine your meats, especially chicken. Your food will taste so much juicier and more flavorful after brining, even if you're not using the highest-quality meat."
23."Season with extra virgin olive oil, but don't cook with it. It has a low smoke point, so cooking with EVOO often leads to burnt food and a smoky kitchen. It is intended for dressing and garnishing. Other oils (vegetable, canola, sunflower, avocado) have a much higher smoke point and are meant for cooking."
24."Save ingredients like olive brine, pickle juice, and ginger juice from the jar. They make a great acidic component for dressings, vinaigrettes, marinades, soups, and sauces."
25."If you're trying to brown ground meat and you see water forming in the pan, that's a sign that it's overcrowded. Rather than cook it all at once, work in small batches and it will brown perfectly."
26."Cook starch foods in stock rather than plain water. It will make things like rice, potatoes, pasta, quinoa, and lentils taste so much more flavorful."
27."Pay attention to the order in which you add ingredients while cooking. Add garlic at the end because it burns quickly; add dried herbs at the beginning and fresh herbs at the end."
28."When a dish calls for a certain amount of wine, it is recommended to consume an equal amount of wine whilst cooking said dish."*
Do you have a tip or trick that will help beginner cooks become more comfortable and skilled in the kitchen? Drop 'em in the comments below.